Since the end of the Cold War, United Nations peace operations have become an established and prominent feature of world politics. From Liberia to East Timor, the UN now carries out extensive governance related functions, under the generic rubric of peace operations, and is a significant political force in Southern states and societies. Despite these powerful new political roles, however, UN peace operations are frequently discussed as a normal and non-political set of activities. Here Richard Al-Qaq leads us to a radical new understanding of the UN and its role in international politics. He uncovers the political and socioeconomic import of such 'peace' activities for subject societies, and raises important questions about the functioning and dynamics of the global political order. Presenting a critical account of the origins, politics and progress of UN peace operations over the past half-century, Al-Qaq emphasizes the political, ideological and historical aspects of such UN intervention. He shows how the UN's 'programme of work' has historically focused on the management of de-colonisation and post-colonial politics, and re-modelling peripheral states to fit into a universal liberal capitalist order. The rise and institutionalisation of peace keeping operations has gone alongside a radical reconstitution of the UN, buttressed by continued US hegemony. Al-Qaq looks in depth at the UN's involvement in Angola, Rwanda and Somalia, all cases in which the UN has facilitated the transition to multi-party democracy. These detailed empirical studies expose the political logic of the design and implementation of peace and security operations, showing how they fit into wider projects of transforming subject societies into liberal market democracies and how they feature in the bigger picture of great power politics. With new empirical research on the UN Secretariat, Al-Qaq uncovers the politics of UN intervention and peace operations. His analysis reveals a new Northern agenda to strip the organisation of its political economy functions and replace them with specialised political and security related tasks at the borderlands of the interstate system. This book is essential for understanding the new role of the UN, especially in Africa, and the politics of so-called humanitarian intervention and peace-building.
Managing World Order
United Nations Peace Operations and the Security Agenda